Daries of a Young Pen: Show Me How?

April 6, 2008

“Morocco is one of the most badly-scored MENA countries as far as education is concerned in terms of access, equity, efficiency, and quality” according to the World Bank’s recent MENA Development Report. The newly published report was a real earthquake for the whole country and especially for every person who is a pure fruit of this educational system, including me. I’m neither a formal institution nor a specialist on the issue, yet my 19 years spent in Moroccan schools enabled me to do an autopsy of the Moroccan educational system by asking the five classical WH questions.

What? The Moroccan Educational System is not one system but a mixture of many models. For centuries, only privileged elite could get educated. This traditional first form of education was mostly religious and the holders of this Power/Knowledge were considered a very influential class in the society and called Al Fukaha — the knowledgeable. When the French colonizing machine came to Morocco, it brought with it a whole new model of teaching based on an orientalist dichotomy. Both traditionalist and imperialist systems have one thing in common: they show you what is good and what is evil, but never dare to tell you how to make the evil become good.

Who? Many actors shaped the face of the Moroccan educational system. Hassan II is incontestably one of the characters who has left the biggest impact on the schooling system. Under the pressure of the right wing Istiqlal party, Hassan II led a huge Arabization movement in a society which speaks Darija, Amazigh, and French but not Classical Arabic, which resulted in the rise of frustrated militant minority groups from one hand and hardcore fundamentalists from the other. And during the 1970s, all the philosophy colleges were closed down — except the Rabat Philosophy College — as to counter the communist rise in the country. Therefore, additional actors were all the teachers who lacked both in resources and pedagogy to educate their pupils. In the middle of this turmoil, the actors forgot to teach the future generations how to critically think.

Where? Centralization is one of the characteristics of this weak Moroccan educational system. It is true that primary education became a priority during the last few years. However, secondary and higher education is still concentrated in the major cities when the majority of the population live in the rural areas. This issue along with the tribal patriarchal mentality pushes many conservative families to deprive their daughters from schooling. So far, no one is thinking how to find practical solutions to solve these problems.

When? Four years ago an ambitious educational reform started in Morocco when the Ministry of National Education and the Royal Committee on Education published a Charter on Education and Training. Since then, access and equity became the strategic priority. Illiteracy campaigns were led among the elders and the Amazigh language finally gained academic recognition. The research and national will is there, yet , nobody knows how to translate it to reality.

Why? Many reasons can be given for the unfortunate state of Moroccan education. The first may be the failure of the French-like bipolar system based on weak public universities (14 universities) in addition to an important number of specialized and selective institutions (139 schools). Another reason is the political manipulation of the educational system for many decades to keep the public opinion under control. Thousands of zealous explanations can be proclaimed, but if you want the opinion of someone who lived the experience from the inside let me share with you only one example, and you’ll understand why this educational system is so ineffective: In my Family Education class, instead of learning how to take care of a child, how to sew, and how to cook, I’ve had to learn the manual by heart and recite it in front of my teacher!

How? Sorry, I can’t answer this question, because in the system where I was educated they only taught me what the problem is, and not how to solve it.



  1. What I would like to know is WHY was there this Arabization movement? In 17 years, I’ve never gotten a clear answer. I want more of an answer than “the government wanted it.” I want to know WHY they wanted it.

    It seems to me that the Arabization movement in the language was taking Morocco backward from commerce in the modern world; whereas the more recent move toward English seems a good step in a better direction toward more international commerce.

    Madame Monet, in Marrakesh
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine

  2. I won’t give you a politically correct answer, because I know that’s not what you are looking for. I think that a country which was colonized like morocco by a very strong cultural factory like france, needed to rebuilt it self and invent some values it can construct its modern nation-state on. and Morocco has choosen Islam and its Arabic history to do this.

    In my opinion that was so wrong and so frustrating to impose on Darija-speaking and Amazigh-speaking populations to adopt an old-fashion language like classical Arabic. I’m not gonna be less muslim if i study in darija or amazigh. Iran is a persian speaking country, and it’s one of the strong leaders of the islamic world! I think the choice to stick on a partially fake Arabic and Islamic past was wrong. The best proof is what you said about the recent move toward English.

    countries were very sentimental in the 60s and 70s, now they are becoming more pragmatic, which is a sign of state maturity!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: